Forget 68 Teams, Let’s Get The NCAA Tournament Back To 48

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

I’m sure I’ll be called “Oscar the Grouch” or a “Debbie Downer” but I want to state off the bat what should be obvious. I love college hoops. That’s why I want to change the greatest event in sports, at least this year, so we can save its place in the American sports lexicon.

The talk of the preseason was that we would have no dominant teams in college basketball. Many people were upset about that since we didn’t have the “giant” for everyone else to hunt at but I wasn’t among that group. A lot of good teams can create great parity where they each battle to become the “best of the lot”. However, we soon found out there’s a bigger problem. There are a lot of BAD (I had to emphasize that) teams in college hoops. That means this year’s version of the NCAA Tournament is going to have a lot of crap to weed through.

Look at the bubble right now! The BYU Cougars (who’d they beat?), the Kentucky Wildcats (best win: the Maryland Terripins who just got their first good and “lucky” win versus the NC State Wolfpack), the North Carolina Tar Heels (a team that got crushed by a bad Texas Longhorns squad). Obviously, I could go on and on. Oh and please spare me the “it’s still early in the season” nonsense. We are basically two months from “Selection Sunday”. Everyone has played a non-conference season and are already two weeks into league play. There should be teams that stick out among the rest. I don’t really see it unfortunately.

Take a few minutes and scour the ‘net for the latest from amateur bracketologists. I did, and the picture is even more depressing. The Baylor Bears as an 8 seed? They beat an overrated Kentucky team and NOTHING else. The Northwestern Wildcats beat them on their home floor. The Ohio State Buckeyes as a 3 seed? Give them credit for a great win over the Michigan Wolverines on their home floor, but what’s their second best win? I guess over a Washington Huskies team that has beaten up on some average Pac-12 squads.

In years past you’d see teams on the top four seed lines with 2-3 great wins by now. A lot of that has to do with better scheduling in the non-conference portion of the season, but what we’ve got now is really a result of too much NCAA Tournament expansion. Teams don’t have to really go through the ringer to make it to “March Madness”. As long as you are a game or so above .500 in your league, you generally get in. While what I’m proposing won’t happen, this is the year I wish we could bring the field down to 48 teams. That eliminates 20 teams that have no business getting into the real postseason. Let them battle in the NIT for the title of the best team “not in tournament”. Give me back the greatness that we used to enjoy in college basketball’s second season. I have a feeling this year it’ll feel a little “forced”.

Like my article? Hate it? Let me know on Twitter (@tmichaelcronin). I look forward to your thoughts. 

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